Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, in a X video where he explains the plans to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel light vehicles in 11 years and 13 days. But now, it seems those EVs won’t need roads, after all, according to the minister. Screenshot/X

There’s a truism in politics: “All politics is local.” And there’s nothing more local than the road full of potholes in front of your house.

But Minster of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, supposedly speaking on behalf of the entire federal government, seems to think we don’t need any more roads. At least, that’s what he said on Monday, Feb. 12, but was singing a different tune by Wednesday, Feb. 14.

The Montreal Gazette reported Guilbeault saying on Feb. 12, ““Our government has made the decision to stop investing in new road infrastructure. Of course we will continue to be there for cities, provinces and territories to maintain the existing network, but there will be no more envelopes from the federal government to enlarge the road network. The analysis we have done is that the network is perfectly adequate to respond to the needs we have. And thanks to a mix of investment in active and public transit, and in territorial planning and densification, we can very well achieve our goals of economic, social and human development without more enlargement of the road network.”

The reaction has been fast, furious and overwhelming. Brian Lilley wrote in the Toronto Sun, “Steven Guilbeault said the quiet part out loud — the Trudeau government doesn’t want any more roads.”

Lilley goes on to say, “Guilbeault, of course, is Trudeau’s fanatical environment minister, a former Greenpeace activist famous for getting arrested, someone I first met more than 20 years ago when he locked himself to a gas pump in Montreal to demand we all stop driving cars.”

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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe posted on X, “Millions for ArriveCan, not one more federal dollar for new roads. Guilbeault wants us all to walk everywhere. The Trudeau government gets more out of touch with reality every day.”

 

In this province, the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association, which represents over 200 member businesses in the heavy construction industry in
Saskatchewan, said in a release, “Today the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association (SHCA) condemn statements made by federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault regarding the future of road construction in Canada.

“Yesterday Minister Guilbeault stated that the federal government would no longer invest in new road infrastructure only to declare today that he meant large projects,” said Shantel Lipp, president of SHCA. “Regardless of the Minister’s intention, his words create uncertainty for the industry and our provincial economy.”

The Saskatchewan heavy construction industry generates more than $5 billion in provincial GDP out of a provincial economy of $73 billion or roughly seven per cent of the total economy and employs close to 30,000 workers, making the industry one of the largest employers in the province, the organization said.

“Once again we see this Federal Minister targeting an industry based solely on his ideologically driven agenda,” said Lipp. “His reckless musings, should they become policy, would see the heavy construction industry and its workers eventually vanish from Saskatchewan.”

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In 2022 Saskatchewan reached $52.6 billion in exports which was the highest figure recorded in the province’s history.

“Demand for Saskatchewan products increases year over year,” said Lipp. “To get our goods to market we have to continually invest in new infrastructure to ensure that we remain competitive in the world. The end of investment from the federal government for much needed infrastructure would have a dire effect on the provincial economy and our ability to trade with the world.”

 

The Ontario Road Builders’ Association, said it was “calling on the federal Minister of Environment Steven Guilbeault and the Ontario Liberal Caucus to immediately clarify the Minister’s comments at a downtown Montreal conference on Monday, and clearly state the federal government’s position on critical road and highway projects in Ontario and across the country.

“While the Minister’s previous actions – including an attempt to encroach on provincial jurisdiction over infrastructure development recently deemed unconstitutional – demonstrate a bias against development, it is shocking to see the Minister make these comments on behalf of the government, suggesting a naive understanding of Canada’s infrastructure needs at a time of record immigration and a push towards removing barriers to trade and economic growth.

“Further, these comments can only be characterized as elitist and out of touch with the reality of every day life in suburban and rural communities. Middle-class Canadians in Waterloo, Scarborough and Orleans depend on road and highway infrastructure to get to work, drive their children to hockey practice and ensure their loved ones receive adequate emergency and primary care. Moreover, the road building industry employs more than 56,000 workers in Ontario alone, that is thousands of good paying jobs supporting tens of thousands of families across Canada.

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“Just last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks at ORBA’s 97th Annual Convention emphasized the importance of road and highway infrastructure for Canadian prosperity, and thanked our members for the work they do in Ontario and across the country. We ask the Prime Minister ensure this same message is echoed and championed around the Cabinet table.

“ORBA supports development across the entire transportation infrastructure asset class, including rail and public transit; therefore, we call on Minister Guilbeault to stop playing politics and join us and provincial governments across Canada to get shovels in the ground on much needed projects in Ontario and across the country.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a X post, “I’m gobsmacked. A federal minister said they won’t invest in new roads or highways. He doesn’t care that you’re stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. I do. We’re building roads and highways, with or without a cent from the feds.”

Federal Conservative MP for Chilliwack-Hope, Mark Strahl said, “This is a government that’s already taxed away the ability of people to afford to buy a new car, and now they’re saying they’re going to take away building roads in this country.

“I think it’s an extreme position from an extreme environment minister.”

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He added, “It’s a very extreme policy that will keep Canadians stuck in traffic. That seems to be the goal here, is to drive people out of their cars. And that’s an extreme position. We need to invest. We need to build the things that Canadians need to live in the type of country we live in.”

 

Guilbeault walks back comments

By Wednesday, Feb. 14, Guilbeault was walking back his statements. As CTV News reported the minister saying, “Of course we’re funding roads, we have programs to fund roads, but we have said, and maybe I should have been more specific in the past, is that we don’t have funds for large projects like the Troisième lien,”

In the video below, he’s challenged with his own words, and denies them.

While not related to Guilbeault’s attack on roadbuiling, Dr. Jordan Peterson said this regarding the significance of owning a vehicle:

 

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